Professionals about professionals: Steve Gadd

Steve Gadd To know Gadd is to love him. These words of the famous Chick Corea have long been shared by millions of drummers and just music lovers around the world. Steve Gadd revolutionized drumming back in the 1970s. Quite a lot of time has passed since then. The veterans were replaced by new heroes. It is curious that the change of "decoration" in the world of drums is really happening with frightening speed. If you take any other acoustic instrument, say the saxophone, the technique and manner of playing it will certainly evolve, but not so soon. For example, the outstanding contemporary saxophonist Michael Brecker, who recently visited our country, has been an unattainable example of saxophone mastery and an apologist for the modern style of playing for more than twenty years. Such a situation is almost impossible to imagine in the world of drums. The technical level of instrument proficiency today has grown to such heights that it is sometimes hard to believe your eyes and ears. Take, for example, the Modern Drummer magazine festivals. Today there is even a whole "caste" of drummers who are engaged almost exclusively in solo careers. They perform at numerous drum festivals around the world, give master classes. These are the famous Terry Bozzio, and the phenomenal Virgil Donaty, who plays deuces on two barrels with sixteenths at a tempo of M.M. = 200, and Dom Fomularo, shining with magnificent classical technique. So why is the drumming art developing so intensively? The answer is very simple. The drum set, in the modern sense of the term (bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, cymbals, tom toms), was formed by the beginning of the forties of the last century. As you can see, the instrument is very young. It is enough to compare it with the same saxophone that appeared in the 19th century or a trumpet, whose age is even older. Even from a technological point of view, these tools have been virtually unchanged for quite a long period of time. You can't say anything like that about drums. Our tool is in the process of development, formation. Every year, technical innovations appear related to the creation of new materials and technologies. The drummer is constantly bombarded with an endless stream of improvements to the mechanical part of the instrument: pedals, hi-hats, all kinds of stands and mounts. No less impressive is the arsenal of techniques created every second by inquisitive minds around the world.

Agree that it is incredibly difficult to stay afloat among all this disgrace. Steve Gadd is one of the few whose skills have already stood the test of time. He shaped the idea of ​​an entire generation about drumming. It is beyond competition because it is a living classic.

In this article, I tried to look at some facets of the work of this great musician, the facets that illuminate the statements of his eminent colleagues.

"The World's Number One Drummer - Mr. Steve Gadd"

Dave Grusin (Dave Grusin)

Technique During the recording, I was sitting at the piano and the drums were right behind me. The piece ended with a marching rhythm played by Steve alone. And it sounded like someone was playing three hands at once. One person played a fraction on the snare drum with both hands, and the second - loud accents on the second and third beats. But when I turned around to look at it, Steve had already stopped. I'll probably never know how he did it."

David Mathews (David Mathews), pianist from MANHATTAN JAZZ QUINTET

David Matthews is right, of course. I had the same impression when I listened to an old live recording of trumpeter Chuck Mangione, on which Steve played. It was a rather fast samba piece. Samba is Steve Gadd's forte. His rhythms with cowbell are unmistakable. But what was he doing on that record! It seemed to me that all the instruments of its installation sounded at the same time. Only after I turned on my old Mayak-209 at speed 9 instead of 19 did I manage to figure out what was the matter. It was a very complex figure with many variations. I must admit that I still dont have confidence: did I shoot everything correctly. Or listen to Chick Corea's Nite Sprite. There Steve plays a few grooves. So, the last before his solo also brought the listener into awe. I deliberately used the past tense, since more than twenty years have passed since then, and drumming technology has come a long way. I think that today many people will be able to play this rhythm based on using the bass tom as the second kick. But in 1976, few could even imagine that this was possible.

Steve Gadd has excellent rudimentary technique. This is the result of not only two years of study at the Manhattan School Of Music and Eastman School Of Music in his native Rochester, but also playing in drum corps (marching drum ensembles is an art that is practically absent in our country and is vividly represented in the USA and Europe). Steve himself says that the decisive role in the development of his technique was played by the fact that in childhood he had to play completely different music, with different techniques and even with different sticks. During the day he rehearsed in drum corps with heavy sticks, and in the evening he played grooves like shuffle in the club with thin sticks and completely different techniques. Gadd went through a real classical school of playing the snare drum. Among Steve's favorite instruments are paired orchestral cymbals, on which he achieved serious success. Gadd also touched on other orchestral instruments, but he was not lucky in learning to play the xylophone, timpani, etc. Apparently, there was no traction. Among Steve Gadd's favorite rudiments is ratamaque, flam paradiddle, invented by him six stroke roll. He successfully uses them in the game on the installation. Today, his unpretentious fingering set is known to the whole world, but then ... Then all this was new. Then it was the last word in technology. The "horizontal" thinking of his predecessor on drumming Olympus, Billy Cobham, has been replaced by "vertical" thinking. Steve Gadd doesn't "run" through countless volumes from top to bottom. Its fillings are more refined in timbre due to the use of a barrel, more torn and embossed. This also applies to his solo playing. Steve rarely changes anything in his phrasing. She is unchanging. The principle of the children's designer wanders from plate to plate. Everyone knows that if the "motorcycle starts" - it's Gadd playing triplets over the barrel. So then there will be ratamaque, scattered throughout the volumes, etc. But all these constructions, reminiscent of children's counting rhymes, work flawlessly. The reason is simple: it is recognizable, spectacular and impeccably executed.

In the seventies, most drummers, paying tribute to fashion, switched to symmetrical production. However, Gadd remained true to himself. Even today, in most cases, he plays in a classical drum production. His right leg deserves special attention. The fact is that Steve's brother was a professional tap dance dancer (what we call step, tap dancing), and young Gadd also joined this traditional American art. This is where his unique bass drumming technique comes from. This is not "heel on the pedal" and not "heel on the weight." The foot is very smooth and, I would say, deftly rolls from toe to heel and back. It makes some sense. The leg is in constant motion. And the movement in our business gives the necessary relaxation, if you like, freedom. With this technique, Steve Gadd can play chains of eighths fairly smoothly at a relatively fast pace. He also plays his crown sambas.

Steve Gadd was most likely the first to use his left hand to play the hi-hat. This applies to both rhythms and solo playing using torn paradidles. Today you will not surprise anyone with this, but he was the first. I am reminded of a book about the great bassist Jaco Pastorius, which mentions a modern advanced bass player who does not understand what is so special about this Pastorius. "I can play it all!" he says. But try to come up with something fundamentally new! the author of the book objects to him.

Steve Gadd's technical innovations are, without a doubt, cowbell related. This instrument has become another characteristic color of his sound palette. He does not do without it either in Latin American rhythms or in solo playing. Steve developed many different grooves using this instrument. They sound amazing. And remember the figure of two sixteenths and an eighth played by him on cowbell and snare drum in Chick Corea's cult play "Samba Song". The whole drum world still cannot do without it. But in fact, this is the same thing that Cobham played on his endless volumes. But the meaning completely changes with the change of timbres. And already the third meaning is taken on by the same figure, performed by Gadd, probably thousands of times on a small, two volumes and a barrel (one note on each instrument). In the latest version, this piece, I think, has been played all over the world a billion times.

Studio I was amazed. Nobody has done anything like this before. I couldn't believe it."

Donald Fagen (Donald Fagen) of STEELY DAN after Steve Gadd recorded the drum part (including solo) of "Aja" on the second take.

Yes, Steve can do that. But here Fagin forgets that Gadd belongs to the elite of the world's studio musicians. These people are expensive, but, having the highest class, they are able to record almost any music from one, maximum from two takes. And then, the second double is written not because of the mistakes made, but to correct the parties. This saves a lot of money, which is paid for every hour of studio time. Today, Steve's position has been largely replaced by younger musicians, but in the 70s and 80s he was unrivaled. Steve Gadd's standard day at the time started something like this: in the morning he drove his car to the recording studio and, having breakfast, looked through the notes of the works that were to be recorded that were brought to him. Here it makes sense to talk about how Steve Gadd works on musical material, what are his principles and priorities in studio work. At first, Steve looks at the game as if it were a road map, looking for signs of repetition, seignos and lanterns, fermatas and slowdowns, coda. In other words, everything that can be useful in the process of reading the game. Then, when the structure of the piece is clear, one can go into more detail about the style of the music. Here comes the next problem. Most writers and arrangers these days don't write a detailed drum line, but an outline. That is, the style, tempo and all the orchestral moments that the drummer should emphasize are indicated (for example, the wind figure at the end of the period, which is simply written out rhythmically to the drum part). Naturally, such an approach requires a certain level of training from the performer. It is assumed that he knows how to act if funk or rock ballad is written at the beginning of the party. But often a studio musician has to deal with a detailed drum set. Of course, there are individual authors who really know what they are doing, and their parts require the most accurate performance, but in most cases it is written unprofessionally, and there is a real risk of being buried under a thick blockage of notes. Steve says that when he encounters this kind of dilettantism, when the orchestral part resembles a page from a Stick Control textbook, it is better to look at the indication of the tempo and try to figure out the style of the piece. It goes without saying that a master like Steve Gadd doesn't need a detailed funk groove. He himself knows what to do. And, in any case, if you are not Steve Gadd, but your simulated drawing is not much different from the written one, do everything to play exactly it - you will feel confident, and this will immediately be reflected in the music. Now that it is clear what to play and where to move along the part, Gadd advises to pay attention to the internal structure of music: periods, phrases. This will give a more detailed idea of ​​the play. Usually, at the end of periods, the drummer plays fills (fills) or general rhythmic figures. Such places should be looked at separately, having previously estimated that it will be possible to play in them.

It's interesting what Steve says about working with a producer. For starters, Gadd offers the simplest groove and the simplest fills. And only if the producer asks for something more complex, refined, Steve will offer another option, a little more diverse. In general, his whole attitude towards the institution of production is imbued with real respect. When asked what he would have done if his point of view on the drum part had not coincided with that of the producer, Steve, on reflection, replied that he would have done what the producer suggested. After all, only he has an idea of ​​the final result. And not only in terms of music, but also in terms of commercial success, future sales. These are the facets of civilized business.

Steve Gadd's studio career is truly limitless. He has recorded with thousands of artists ranging from Chat Baker to Paul Simon, Al Di Meola to Aretha Franklin. And there is always a relaxed atmosphere in the sessions if Steve is in the studio. Everyone knows the story of how Gadd alternately rustled cigarette cellophane near different microphones, making the sound engineer sweat a lot while trying to fix a complex technical problem. In general, Steve Gadd's drumming career began in the studio. In the early seventies, when young Steve came to New York looking for work and, in his own words, appeared everywhere he could with his drums, the first serious offer he received was for studio work. And it was in this direction that his career developed at the initial stage.

With vast studio work experience and colossal sight-reading skills, Steve Gadd is by no means flaunting this. He just says that, of course, the ability to read music helps a lot, but if you can at least somehow play the piece to the end without getting lost, that's good.

Style Steve is one of the creators of this style and an amazing artist on his instrument. He has managed to infuse his unique style into what is considered a commercial idiom.

Danny Gottlieb (Danny Gottlieb) MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, Gil Evans, Pat Metheny.

"Steve is a phenomenon. Everything he plays makes sense. It's all because he plays himself. He is probably the first guy who has a real sense of rock and pop music, while having a technical arsenal and a jazz feel. He is unique, he is poetry in motion.

Andy Newmark (Andy Newmark) is the former drummer for John Lennon, David Bowie, ROXY MUSIC and others.

Steve Gadd has become "his" everywhere. He records jazz, fusion, pop music, Latin American works, etc. with equal success. Indeed, his jazz roots give him the opportunity to partner with prominent jazz stars. Among them: Chick Corea, Michael Brecker (Michael Brecker), vibraphonist Mike Manieri (Mike Mainieri), bassist Eddie Gomez (Eddie Gomez). At the same time, he plays with Eric Clapton (Eric Clapton), Al Jarreau (Al Jarreau), Paul Simon and many others. Where does such versatility come from? Gadd himself, recalling his young years, says that his uncle, being a drummer, introduced him to a variety of music. Steve's favorite thing was listening to marches. On Sundays, the entire extended Gadd family went to a jam session at one of Rochester's jazz clubs. And just imagine what stars little Steve had a chance to play with - Stan Getz, Carmen MacRae. And at eleven (eleven!) years old, Steve Gadd was playing a jam session with Dizzy Cillespie himself! At an equally tender age, Steve began working in the clubs of his native Rochester. They were mostly organ trios, playing R&B oriented music. In these musical groups, Steve Gadd learned the art of the second and fourth beats.

Steve Gadd was born April 9, 1945. Accordingly, the formative years of his musical talent fell on the end of the fifties - the beginning of the sixties. This is the time of rock and roll, which, of course, influenced the formation of the young musician's playing style. Like any drummer, Gadd had to play all sorts of music early in his career, from Jewish weddings to jazz to what is known in America as the Top 40 gigs. This is where Steve's versatility comes from. Moreover, interestingly, Steve really created his own style of play, which he uses almost unchanged in a variety of genres. Compare his solo at the 1989 Buddy Rich Tribute to his solo at the Grover Washington concert. You will not find fundamental differences. But the first was played in a swing piece with a large jazz orchestra, and the second was played with a fusion team. Steve Gadd relies on the persuasiveness of the performance and the authenticity of the manner. In other words, all this is his invention, and he plays it wherever he wants. This is his trademark. And while all the drummers in the world are going crazy about the new style, jazzmen reasonably remark that "this guy is not ours." And the truth is, despite the fact that Gadd's jazz arsenal is based mainly on the triplet playing of Alvin Jones, from the point of view of a refined jazzman, it does not sound jazzy. But it is the search for a new sound that draws the attention of musicians like Chick Corea to the personality of Steve Gadd. And Gadd creates a number of records that can really be called masterpieces. Among them is the one discussed in the appendix to this issue of the magazine.

But the final style of Steve Gadd is formed by the mid-seventies. And before that, after graduating from the Eastman School of Music, he plays in an ensemble with Chick Corea, Chuck Mungioni, Joe Romano and Frank Polaro. They play in Rochester six times a week. This is a great experience for a young musician. By this time, Chick is already a fairly well-known figure in the world of jazz. He periodically works in New York. And so Chick-to became the person who changed Steve's ideas about jazz drumming. Coria was not entirely satisfied with his bandmates. Joe Romano was too into Charlie Parker and couldn't take a broader view of the music, and our hero was a too groove-oriented drummer. One fine day, Chick sat down at the drums (and he can!) and showed Steve how he would like him to play. It turned everything upside down. Steve stopped playing the second and fourth beats with the hat all the time, freed his limbs for more relaxed playing, and things started to go. After that, Chick left for New York for some time, and when he arrived, Gadd no longer had huge drums, but a new, much more compact and suitable set for this kind of music. By the way, you can listen to what Chick Corea does on the drums on the bonus tracks of the CD version of the landmark album "Three Quartets".

In the early seventies, Steve and his friend Tony Levin form a trio and go to conquer New York. They play pretty tough music, but the band doesn't survive in New York. Still, at that time, Gadd was not yet such a powerful drummer. This is also evidenced by the fact that he tried to get into the Brekker brothers, but, as Randy Brekker said, Steve was an ordinary jazz drummer, and they were looking for a replacement for Billy Cobham. The quite traditional manner of playing Steve Gadd of that time is also evidenced by his recordings made in 1973-74 with Paul Desmond (Paul Desmond) from the Dave Brubeck quartet (Dave Brubeck). I think that even a very informed person today would never recognize the king of drums of the twentieth century on this record. It remains only to agree with the statement of Gadd's colleague Dan Gottlieb (Danny Gottlieb) that Steve managed to introduce his style into what is a kind of drumming standard. Thus, Gadd's manner has become this very standard, which is up to units. But, unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. These standards are constantly updated by musicians of the younger generation.

Sound It's only natural that a musician of this magnitude would develop his own sound concept. Despite the fact that Steve has spent almost half his life in the studio, he, in his own words, knows nothing about the process of recording drums, as well as about their dubbing at concerts. He has a single and very practical criterion - microphones should not interfere with the game. Steve Gadd relies entirely on his own sound, which sound engineers must shoot with high quality and as close to natural as possible.

For decades now, Steve Gadd and Yamaha drums have been inseparable. Let's take a quick look at how he sets them up. At different times, he used two types of plastics - these are pin stripe and ordinary plastic without spraying. In both cases, the drums are tuned quite low, giving (combined with the powerful touch) the characteristic "shooting boxes" sound on the toms. In the late seventies, when this sound won fans all over the world, becoming a model for all drummers, two-layer glycerin heads had just appeared. In general, the music of that time was largely electronically oriented. Following this movement, drum companies created new sounds using polyurethane and iron tubing, as well as heads made from the latest synthetic materials. It was part of the story with its trendy extreme outbursts. In fairness, it should be noted that Steve Gadd did not become a victim of radical phenomena in sound. Rather, his commitment to this kind of musical palette is dictated by the wide range of musical styles he has to play. Gadd's sound, like the phrasing, is no different, whether it's jazz, fusion, pop or world music. After all, he is the bearer of the gaming standard! So, Gadd's toms shoot, which is incredibly popular among young musicians of the former USSR, the snare drum is always muted with the help of a kind of band-aid and practically does not emit high overtones, the kick drum sounds quite round, but also seriously muffled. This pop sound on Chick Corea's records brought jazz to a wider audience. And the playing of the "jazzy" Gadd was very different from the classical examples of jazz drumming. And here Steve managed to set a certain standard of sound and manner for a while. Your obedient servant was no exception, and for some time was under the serious influence of Steve Gadd. But later my tastes changed, I turned away from the concept of "power jazz".

But in general, this sound, almost devoid of sustain, today sounds very archaic, not relevant. The world has once again turned to the natural drum sound of which Philly Joe Jones' playing is a classic example. And Steve himself does not muffle his drums so much today.

Groove "He's just a demon! Steve has this feeling of relaxation, absolutely indescribable. He just "sits" on the rhythm. He's a bad, bad young man."

Grady Tate (Grady Tate) is a great jazz drummer

Of course! After all, that might be the most important thing! This is what Steve Gadd does to make jazz audiences snap their fingers on beats two and four and Eric Clapton fans to dance. Gadd's groove is really big! They (both Steve and the groove) are incredibly relaxed, but at the same time they are directed forward. I think that it is this paradoxical combination of relaxation with an inevitable drive that creates an amazing feeling. Steve talks about how he was always focused on the rhythm. His advice on this matter is interesting. Steve takes the most elementary pattern: the kick drum plays on the first and third beats, and the snare drum on the second and fourth. He then plays sixteenth notes on the hi-hat. Then he changes them into eighths and then into quarters. Then - in reverse order. The fact is that when you play sixteenth notes, they serve as a guide, a reference point. There is a very small distance between sixteenths. The larger it is, the more difficult it is to accurately hit the next note. Therefore, by increasing the duration, you deprive yourself of a certain reference point, complicating the task. The ultimate goal is to achieve 100% consistency of the barrel and the small. This seemingly simple exercise brings up a very important skill in correctly understanding the ratio of durations. Steve talks about the same thing when he talks about doubling the tempo (a transition to a double in some part of the piece). You will be surprised at how much you have to hold back to stay in the rhythm. <...> In any case, you have to adjust to the metronome or click track. The question is how comfortable do you feel during adaptation. You will be surprised that the second beat does not appear as quickly as the first. And you should know about it! Otherwise, it won't be easy!" Steve talks about the natural biological arrhythmias of our body. Psychologically, a twofold increase in tempo is perceived as acceleration, which usually happens with beginners - the tempo speeds up, but in fact, it remains unchanged. It's just that instead of quarters you play eighths, instead of eighths you play sixteenths, and so on. That is, again we are talking about the relationship of elementary durations. By the way, the famous Lenny White told me the same thing: The most important thing is to understand how eighths, triplets and sixteenths relate to each other. And that's exactly what it is!

I think it was this serious attitude to rhythm that inspired Steve Gadd and his friends - Richard Tee, Cornell Dupree, Eric Gale - to create the STUFF team in the mid-seventies. Many critics call it a classic example of fusion. But in my opinion, this music is much more like R&B with a bit of a funky twist. However, no matter what it is called, the main emphasis in it is on a real, I would even say, homespun groove. There are no abstruse improvisations here. Everything is very clear and simple. This team functioned with varying intensity, but with continued success in the late seventies and early eighties. Then this project in 1987 received a second birth already in the form of the GADD GANG group, which also successfully toured and recorded for several years.

Thinking Every drummer wants to play like Gadd because he plays perfectly He brought orchestral compositional thinking to drumming. At the same time, he has an amazing imagination and great swing.

Chick Corea

It's impossible not to agree with Steve's longtime partner the great Chick Corea. Everything played by Steve Gadd without exception is absolutely flawless in form. His parts are impeccably built compositionally. Playing any song, Gadd uses the simplest principle - he gradually adds expressive means: a new instrument or smaller durations. It's like an orchestral palette. Colors are added gradually, as needed. But it always works! Regarding solo playing, the great Joe Zawinul said that improvisation is a momentary composition of music. His statement fully applies to Steve Gadd, as you can easily see by opening the supplement to this magazine. Although, what you will see is rather an exception to the rule. The principles of building a solo in Quartet #2 are very different from the usual compilation method used by Steve. But any Gadd solo, whether recorded on a record or played in concert, is an example of compositional logic. Latin American and jazz solos, favorite variations on the marching rhythm (an echo of childhood addictions), which can appear in any musical context, with their construction and persuasive performance, Mr. Gadd is, without any doubt, one of the great drum soloists.

The Art of Drumming I love drummers, but they also disappoint me because they don't develop the art of drumming. I think the only guy who really contributed a lot to drums is Steve Gadd. <...> Of the drummers I've heard, Gadd is of the highest class."

Buddy Rich

I am absolutely sure that there are many drummers in the world today who have such an arsenal of virtues. But Steve Gadd is alone. It was he who became the man who, according to Buddy Rich's daughter, changed the face of modern drumming. He is a true innovator. It is this, plus the huge talent of the performer, that distinguishes him from the majority. Steve Gadd has long written his name in the history of drumming in golden letters.

Material prepared by: Evgeny RIABOY